Gas-containing otogenic brain abscess

Sergio Paolini, Giovanni Ralli, Pasquale Ciappetta, Antonino Raco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Gas-containing brain abscesses are very rare. Two mechanisms may be responsible for the presence of intracavitary gas: bacterial fermentation or penetration through an abnormal communication between the exterior and the intracranium. The need to search for this potential communication is considered an indication for open surgery. We report the case of a surgically treated gas-containing brain abscess originating from an undiagnosed chronic otitis media. CASE DESCRIPTION: A 54-year-old man developed acute neurologic deterioration, becoming comatose within 24 hours. A contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) scan disclosed a gas-containing cystic mass in the right temporal lobe. Urgent surgical decompression revealed the presence of an abscess, which was excised. During the same surgery, we performed a radical mastoidectomy, removing a previously undiagnosed attic cholesteatoma. Neither procedure revealed a discontinuity of the floor of the middle cranial fossa. Cultures grew a mixed flora. Antibiotics were administered for 6 weeks. The patient made a complete neurologic recovery. CONCLUSION: This report demonstrates that otogenic brain abscesses may contain gas due to fermentation of nonclostridial bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-273
Number of pages3
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002


  • Brain abscess
  • Craniotomy
  • Gas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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